World War I concluded when an armistice went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson commemorated the event by declaring Nov. 11 Armistice Day, the forerunner to Veterans Day.
Due to the national holiday falling on a Sunday this year, the Niagara University community celebrated Veterans Day on Monday, Nov. 12, with a program honoring those who have sacrificed to preserve the freedoms Americans hold dear.
The event also served as an opportunity for representatives from NU, the 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council and the Binational Economic & Tourism Alliance to formally unveil and dedicate a commemorative plaque for the Niagara University 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden, located between St. Vincent’s and Alumni halls. The garden commemorates the 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States following the War of 1812.
“We look as this garden as a contemplative place where students, faculty and community members can look across the border and ponder 200 years of peace,” said the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University.
The peace garden initiative has been undertaken as part of the 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Project, an overarching effort to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the War of 1812. According to the Binational Economic & Tourism Alliance, the Peace Garden Trail is designed “to attract international visitors as well as residents of this historically significant crossborder region to experience and enjoy the natural beauty that a garden provides while commemorating the peace that has existed between Canada and the United States over the past 200 years.”
Arlene White, executive director of the Binational Economic & Tourism Alliance, added, “This is the 24th of 24 peace gardens that we’ve dedicated this year throughout the Great Lakes area, and I can’t think of a more fitting spot for the final one to be dedicated than this binational location at Niagara University.”
Brian Merrett, C.E.O. of the 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council, also spoke during the 30-minute event.
“We want to thank Niagara University for hosting this garden,” he said. “What a great resource we have here, so close to the international border.”
For more information on the Peace Garden Trail, please visit www.binationalheritagepeacegardentrail.com.